Rob Manfred shouldn’t shy away from World Series politics

ATLANTA – If you were to hand Rob Manfred a truth serum, his first choice for the 2021 World Series would surely be the Yankees-Dodgers, for reasons that need no explanation.

His second choice, probably? Any of the 29 teams, in any combination, in addition to the Braves.

Here in Truist Park, politics – for lack of efforts to come up with a better word – dominates, and as the commissioner said on Tuesday, “We have always tried to be apolitical.”

Yet here is a public call for Manfred to recognize the obvious: you cannot be apolitical, not in 2021, not in this bitterly divided country. If it’s too late to leave the sideline and fully declare the values ​​of Major League Baseball by the time the Fall Classic ends, then let this imperfect storm serve as an uncomfortable boost for baseball to take over its role. de, to borrow the formulation favored by Manfred predecessor Bud Selig, a social institution.

“We would like to stay focused on the pitch, on the game,” said Manfred, expressing a sentiment as optimistic as world peace and New York’s competitive teams in the NFL.

When the Braves upset the exhausted Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, they brought the World Series to this city for the first time since 1999, simultaneously carrying two important pieces of baggage:

1. Earlier this year, Manfred moved the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver to display MLB opposition to Georgia’s new voting laws. The irony of the sport’s next flagship event to be held in Atlanta months later has not been lost on anyone.

2. The chop tomahawk, which began in 1991 at the start of the dynastic (ish) era of these Braves, will once again benefit from a national platform.

Rob manfred

While answering reporters’ questions ahead of Game 1 at Minute Maid Park, Manfred hinted that he would rather answer 100 questions about the uncertainty of upcoming work in the sport rather than tackle those topics. nuclear.

Regarding the All-Star Game’s move to host the World Series here, Manfred, after noting the league’s desire to be apolitical, added, “Obviously there has been a notable exception this year. I think our desire is to try to avoid another exception.

I reject the premise. If Manfred had kept the Midsummer Classic in Atlanta that would have been political too, a tacit endorsement of measures designed not only to suppress the minority vote, but also to disarm honorable Republicans like Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his director. General Gabriel. Sterling who upheld the rule of law last November. There would likely have been boycotts of the attendees, starting with National League manager Dave Roberts of the Dodgers. It would have been a mess.

Those wondering why Manfred would allow the World Series to be held here, when the laws have not changed since the All-Star Game, are in bad faith. If you hit someone in the mouth to express your displeasure, does it make you a hypocrite if you stop there and don’t put the person in a coma? Manfred is said to have scored more points for speaking about the nuances of his position, reiterating his opposition to Georgian legislation, than for trying to break free like a caught fish.

Braves fans perform the Tomahawk Chop.

As for the absolutely ridiculous chop tomahawk, in which fans relate a war song to the accompaniment to the music provided by the Braves, Manfred transferred the responsibility to a Native American tribe in the area, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. , who supported her. Of course, this isn’t really a regional issue, as the World Series is televised outside of Atlanta and Houston (insert low-rated joke here), and most Native Americans have expressed opposition to it. this demeaning exercise.

What if Manfred simply expressed his displeasure at the chop and urged the Braves not to facilitate the exercise? If the fans initiate it on their own, to the wave, it is their deplorable choice. MLB and its teams should not be incidental, however.

The Braves’ NL pennant allows the club to honor their fallen great Hank Aaron, a tribute that also took place at the All-Star Game in Denver. It’s a good thing, an ‘off the field’ affair that Manfred will welcome. Unfortunately, today everything has a price. Manfred would put his league in a more noble place, one that I (perhaps naively) think is financially advantageous overall, paying that price responsibly rather than running away from it.

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